Sage Advice US

Building your team: How to master the art of hiring top talent

Hiring a new employee is always a big step – whether you are a growing business making your first hire, or an enterprise making the third hire this week. Adding to your staff is not a decision to take lightly, and therefore, many questions and concerns arise.

Aside from the financial commitment, here are a handful of questions that might come up:

In addition to following some of the more traditional advice before starting the hiring process, e.g., consider freelancers, get referrals, don’t over hire, you can apply lessons from some of the world’s biggest employers to use during the interview process to really discover if indeed this is the right person to hire.

Below are three critical questions that Jeff Bezos, the founder of, asks (and requires hiring managers to ask) before bringing someone on board. And, it’s probably no coincidence that other business leaders share his thoughts.

Will you admire this person?

Interviewers typically operate from a position of power. The winning candidate may be the one who best caters to the interviewer’s vanities. Bezos likes to flip that approach: Put your ego aside and look for someone with your strengths and more.

This is a kissing cousin approach leaders often use the hire-your-replacement strategy, where you interview people who have the skills and the personality to grow into your position. Then, you hire the person who is most likely to do the job better than you can do it.

I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.

-Lee Iacocca, Ford

Will this person raise the level of effectiveness for our company?

If your business is hotly competitive, don’t settle for someone who wants to grow with your company. Pick the person who wants to make the company better.

If we were not still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become a mediocre company.

-Bill Gates, Microsoft

Where can this person shine?

In the sports world, winning organizations recruit the most talented players and then find the best situations for each player to succeed.

The best business leaders embed their culture of winning into their hiring practices, too. They recruit excellent “players” and exploit their talents by putting them in the situations where each can thrive.

Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person.

-Edwin Booz, Booz Allen & Hamilton

What are some of the key questions you ask in interviews to spot superior performers?

Research Report: 500+ Global HR leaders on business growth challenges

Our latest survey report reveals business leaders' concerns about the growth challenges they face and the complexities of ensuring consistent, relevant and motivational HR practices.

Download the report